Feature-documentary The Portal was produced by ex-financier (Australia’s self-professed ‘Wolf of Wall Street’) turned meditation expert Tom Cronin, and directed by first-timer, Jacqui Fifer.
With climate crisis, political unrest and potential world catastrophe looming, the timing for this film couldn’t be better. Encouraging a new way of thinking, the film proposes: ‘Calm your mind. Open your heart. Transform the world’. Could mindfulness ignite a planetary shift and save humanity?
Inspired by the idea that crisis is the catalyst for change, The Portal shares the stories of six individuals who have used meditation as a device to help them through desperate moments, and is supported by compelling insights from futurists.
The film’s premise is altruistic, and the stories shared are honest and heartfelt. The cast are admirable human beings who have each encountered hardship and adversity in life. A ghetto kid turned military man; anxious immigrant Vietnamese daughter turned Harvard business success; United Nations human rights expert, and a former athlete/TV presenter. Each have turned their lives around and now work to support humanity teaching mindfulness in some form. The futurists help build the story and paint a picture as to what life could be like, sharing interesting (and somewhat disturbing) plans such as using AI to provide unconditional love and therefore emotional connection for humans.
For a film about stillness, The Portal is very busy. The narrative is split between nine individuals, whose stories are shared via a mixture of mediums from documentary to animation. Whilst the characters are diverse and have interesting memories and opinions to share, weaving in and out of their stories is at times confusing. The film presents an optimistic view, through stories of crisis and transformation, however, we are never privy to the transformation, just life before meditation and their professed improved, present day that now includes meditation. This missing piece makes the documentary disjointed and the editing – shifting from past, present and future – was also jarring.
Visually appealing – filmed in the US, Canada, Australia and a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan – the cinematography showcases nature in all its glory, with the film aiming to inspire humankind into a new era. Whilst not a transformational experience, The Portal is thoughtful and conveys hope and promise. Not for everyone – new age cynics and those who don’t think the planet is in trouble are unlikely to appreciate the message – its audience are those already on the path to enlightenment.
Enter The Portal